Thanksgiving is a huge thing for people. It’s worth mentioning that it is a huge thing for dogs who are lucky enough to snag some primo veggies and other dog-friendly treats from the dinner table (HINT, HINT). I’ve been told it’s also a big deal for turkeys which I thought was pretty cool, after all these birds are pretty dang smart and even were runner-up for national bird. BUT then, I learned why. And the reason it’s a big day for turkeys is NOT so cool. Then in another twist of my rollercoaster of emotions, I found out that the President “pardons” gobblers on Thanksgiving, exempting them from having to become someone’s dinner. I was feeling all warm and fuzzy about how the Prez is doing a great thing and setting a nice example all people can follow … then, like the pesky frisbee toy that fakes me out every time, this good news came back. Well, it came back as some not so good news.
Apparently, the tradition of pardoning turkeys is a whole bunch of cranberry sauce. After the bird is put on a pedestal and the good old Commander-in-Chief gives him the “all-clear,” these birds are sent to a bizarro sanctuary where they are closely monitored by vets who are there just to ensure that the turkeys stay alive. No going back to the wild turkey flocks to run with friends and family, just a weird half kind of existence surrounded by doctors. Now, I was shocked to learn this, but there are many more things about this tradition that are far more shocking. Since I’m not really the one who has a say in the lives of the captive turkey population (looking at you, hoomans for that one), I thought I’d share what I’ve learned in an effort to expose the banana-pants-ness of the whole festivity.
1. Although one turkey gets pardoned every year … two are always selected because they’re typically so sickly that one does not make it to the ceremony.
2. Pardoned turkeys used to be brought to Mount Vernon to live, but because of the way they have been bred to produce the most “desirable” meat, they were deemed too large and too sickly to fit in historically.
3. Most of the pardoned turkeys only live for a year after the ceremony. Cheese, who was pardoned in 2014 is the only one still alive today … and he could not even walk when he arrived at Morven Park.
So while this might seem like a “nice” tradition, sadly is isn’t really grounded in anything remotely nice. Perhaps a better tradition would be for turkeys to pardon people for being so silly.